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Title: Vacant Niches and the Possible Operation of Natural Laws in Ecosystems
Contributor(s): Rohde, Klaus (author)
Publication Date: 2008
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Abstract: Woodley [2007] suggests that natural platonic laws may operate in ecosystems. He bases this claim on two kinds of "law-like behaviour" observed in nature: 1) adaptations towards specialization which can be looked at as typological lineage degeneration in which specialization makes species more sensitive to environmental perturbations; 2) occurrence of convergently evolved forms which suggest a limited number of niches or possible organismal body plans (Platonic moulds). In this paper, I critically review the evidence given by Woodley, concluding that "natural laws" may well exist in ecosystems, but that evidence for lineage degeneration as a "lawful" process in evolution from archetypes to more specialized forms which are more susceptible to environmental perturbations, and for filling of niche space, is faulty. "Vacant niche" is a valid and useful term, which draws attention to the non-saturation of niche space and non-equilibrium conditions in nature.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: Rivista di Biologia [Biology Forum], 101(1), p. 13-21
Publisher: Tilgher-Genova
Place of Publication: Italy
ISSN: 0035-6050
Field of Research (FOR): 060899 Zoology not elsewhere classified
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
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